From The Guardian UK: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/19/trans-pacific-partnership-corporate-usurp-congress
The TPP would strip our constitutional rights, while offering no gains for the majority of Americans. It’s a win for corporations
theguardian.com, Tuesday 19 November 2013
The proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement among 12 governments, touted as one of the largest “free trade” agreements in US history, is running into difficulties as the public learns more about it. Last week 151 Democrats and 23 Republicans (pdf) in the House of Representatives signed letters to the US chief negotiators expressing opposition to a “fast track” procedure for voting on the proposed agreement. This procedure would limit the congressional role and debate over an agreement already negotiated and signed by the executive branch, which the Congress would have to vote up or down without amendments.
Most Americans couldn’t tell you what “fast track” means, but if they knew what it entails they would certainly be against it. As one of the country’s leading trade law experts and probably the foremost authority on Fast Track, Lori Wallach of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, put it:
[Fast track] authorized executive-branch officials to set US policy on non-tariff, and indeed not-trade, issues in the context of ‘trade’ negotiations.
This means that fast track, which first began under Nixon in 1974, was not only a usurpation of the US Congress‘ constitutional authority “to regulate commerce with foreign nations”.
It also gave the executive branch – which is generally much less accountable to public pressure than the Congress – a means of negating and pre-empting important legislation by our elected representatives. Laws to protect the environment, food safety, consumers (from monopoly pricing), and other public interest concerns can now be traded away in “trade” negotiations. And US law must be made to conform to the treaty.
How ironic that this massive transfer of power to special-interests such as giant pharmaceutical or financial corporations has been sold to the press as a means of holding “special interest” groups – who might oppose tariff reductions that harm them but are good for everyone else – in check.
But the TPP and its promoters are full to the brim with ironies. It is quite amazing that a treaty like the TPP can still be promoted as a “free trade” agreement when its most economically important provisions are the exact opposite of “free trade” – the expansion of protectionism.
Continue reading at: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/19/trans-pacific-partnership-corporate-usurp-congress